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Facebook Looks to Add Pressure to Apple and Further Emphasize Concerns Around App Store Policies



While there are many words that you could use to describe Facebook as a company, one that’s increasingly come to mind in recent times is  ‘opportunistic’.

Mostly, this applies to the way Facebook has copied competitors, or released similar functions to blunt their momentum, to varying effect. But Facebook is also now finding more ways to gently nudge decision-makers and policy groups into shifting their attention to where it would prefer, using media momentum and other discussions to highlight certain elements and debates that could ultimately benefit its organization.

Case in point – this week, Facebook has said that it tried to be more transparent with its users as to where any money raised via its new paid events tool will go, with respect to fees and charges implemented by the App Store, but was blocked from doing so by Apple.

Facebook events

As Facebook noted in the launch announcement for its new live events function:

“For transactions on the web, and on Android in countries where we have rolled out Facebook Pay, small businesses will keep 100% of the revenue they generate from paid online events. We asked Apple to reduce its 30% App Store tax or allow us to offer Facebook Pay so we could absorb all costs for businesses struggling during COVID-19. Unfortunately, they dismissed both our requests and SMBs will only be paid 70% of their hard-earned revenue.”

As reported by Reuters, Facebook now says that it tried to add a notice in-app to let users know that 30% of any funds they raise via their events will go to the App Store, but Apple refused on the grounds that it’s “irrelevant” information.

Facebook provided this statement to Reuters:

“Now more than ever, we should have the option to help people understand where money they intend for small businesses actually goes. Unfortunately Apple rejected our transparency notice around their 30% tax but we are still working to make that information available inside the app experience.”

It’s a gentle nudge, which adds just a little more pressure to Apple, which is already being scrutinized over its App Store policies, via an ongoing antitrust investigation in the US.

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Apple’s also being confronted in a more public manner via a new battle with games developer Epic, which has taken on Apple direct over its imposed 30% cut of any in-app sales via iOS apps.

Indeed, Epic’s description of Apple’s behavior certainly seeks to make the case the Apple is using using its market dominance in an unfair, and restrictive, way:

Apple’s policies are so restrictive that they block gaming services like Microsoft xCloud, NVIDIA GeForce NOW, and Google Stadia from existing on iOS. Apple’s policies would have even blocked the World Wide Web if it had been invented after the iPhone, because Apple policies disallow running code not reviewed by Apple, accepting payments directly from customers, and accessing content not reviewed by Apple  all fundamental features of the web. These policies, together with Apple’s chilling enforcement strategy, directly impede innovation and invention of entirely new kinds of apps, games, and businesses.”

Epic, which is currently facing various restrictions in the App Store, is planning to challenge Apple in court, which could see Apple eventually forced to change its policy approach.

But then again, it probably won’t – Apple will argue that it’s free to manage its platform as it deems fit, and that it has the right to take a cut of payments. Developers don’t have to use its service, so it’s not forcing anyone to adhere to these rules.

But then again, with Apple controlling 50% of the mobile OS market in the US, choosing not to build apps for iOS is basically not an option for many developers.

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The Epic case has added more weight to the ongoing antitrust concerns around the company – which brings us back to Facebook, and it’s opportunistic nudges.

With renewed emphasis on Apple’s policies, Facebook is now looking to add further pointers and notes to help regulators in their consideration of Apple’s approach.

  • As noted, Facebook has today pointed out that Apple rejected its call for in-app notifications of the App Store’s 30% cut on any payments, which not only sees creators taking less money for the work they put in, but also reduces transparency
  • Earlier this week, Facebook also noted that new data tracking measures in iOS 14, which is set for release next month, will essentially cripple its Audience Network on iOS. Which hurts SMBs: We understand that iOS 14 will hurt many of our developers and publishers at an already difficult time for businesses,” Facebook explained. “Many of these are small businesses that depend on ads to support their livelihood.”  
  • Earlier this month, Facebook launched a new version of its Facebook Gaming app on iOS, which has been significantly stripped down for iOS devices due to App Store rules which restrict which elements can be included in apps. 

Each of these cases is another reminder to regulators, another mark that highlights Apple’s rigid policies. And while Facebook isn’t taking such dramatic measures as Epic Games, and removing its apps and functions entirely, you can see how Facebook is using the additional media coverage around the Epic situation as a means to add more pressure to the situation, and Apple itself, amid the rising debate.

Interestingly, Facebook has also reportedly undertaken similar measures to sow fears about rising competitor TikTok.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in various meetings with US politicians last year, sought to highlight concerns about the app’s ties to the Chinese Government. These meetings were conducted before any official investigations into TikTok had been announced.

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As per WSJ, Zuckerberg met with several senators, in which he pointed out TikTok’s obligations and links. Zuckerberg also made the same case to US President Donald Trump during a private dinner last October, emphasizing the threat that Chinese internet companies pose to American businesses.

The US Government announced a national security investigation into TikTok in November, just weeks after Zuckerberg’s push.

It’s interesting to note the timeline, and how that could relate to Facebook’s latest actions to stoke concerns with Apple’s policies. It also raises questions as to the potential connections between Facebook and US senators. Facebook has been notoriously lenient on posts from US President Donald Trump, for example, even going so far as to give Trump the benefit of the doubt on his controversial ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts’ comment in relation to the #BlackLivesMatter protests.

As per Zuckerberg:

The President later posted again, saying that the original post was warning about the possibility that looting could lead to violence. We decided that this post, which explicitly discouraged violence, also does not violate our policies and is important for people to see.”

Which is interesting, right? Most other users would not get a chance to explain themselves, or provide more context. Of course, the US President is in a different category to regular users anyway, but it is worth noting the subtle connections and links that Facebook seems to increasingly be using to help advance its agenda in varying forms.

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TikTok Launches ‘TikTok Tactics’ Online Course to Help Marketers Level-Up their Platform Approach



TikTok Launches 'TikTok Tactics' Online Course to Help Marketers Level-Up their Platform Approach

TikTok has launched a new, video-aligned platform training course for marketers, designed to provide tips and insights on how to make best use of the platform for brand promotion and development.

The new ‘TikTok Tactics’ course is an ‘easy to follow, best-practice guide to advertising on TikTok’, which provides a range of lessons on attribution, targeting, creative best practices and more.

The course, which you can sign-up for here, focuses on four key elements:

Each course segment includes a video overview, which eventually points to three varying approaches to each, based on where you’re at in your marketing program.

TikTok Tactics course

For example, as you can see here, in the ‘Attribution’ element, TikTok notes that beginners with limited development resources should start with the standard website pixel, to help track user response data for your campaigns, while more advanced marketers are organizations can move on to its Pixel developer mode and API integration for advanced tracking.

Each element follows the same path, outlining how it can contribute to your overall TikTok marketing strategy, and how you can level up each aspect relative to where you’re at in your process.

TikTok Tactics course

It’s an interesting approach, which, in some ways, seems like TikTok is looking to gamify the progress of your TikTok marketing efforts, with each progressive step putting more reliance on its various tools.

For example, in the ‘Creative’ element, the three steps progress from utilizing your own assets, to partnering with creators via the TikTok Creator Marketplace. Which is logical, that’s one way in which you could scale up your creative elements as you grow your platform presence. But it also guides you further into TikTok’s own tools, and the features that will benefit the company, by bringing more ad dollars into its creator eco-system.

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That’s not to say that this approach is merely self-serving, but basically, TikTok is also looking to boost its own products and services, and in most cases, you don’t necessarily have to use TikTok’s own tools, specifically, to maximize your efforts.  

But you can, and these basic overviews, which also connect through to more information on each element, provide more specific outlines on how to go about leveling up your on-platform promotions as you progress over time.

As a singular guide, the insights here are fairly basic, but at each step, you are invited to dig deeper to develop your understanding, while TikTok has also included a 19-page guide book to help in your planning and implementation.

TikTok Tactics course

It’s interesting, and definitely worth a look for TikTok marketers, but it maybe doesn’t go into the specifics of on-platform tactics as much as the name might suggest.

Still, it could be worth a look if you want to make best use of TikTok for promotions.

You can sign-up and go through the TikTok Tactics course here.

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Op-Ed: Education tipline launched by Virginia governor is a slap in the face to teachers



Op-Ed: Education tipline launched by Virginia governor is a slap in the face to teachers

The first order of business for newly sworn-in Governor Glenn Youngkin of Virginia was to rescind the mask mandate for public schools.
Source – Virginia Governor Glenn Younglin

A bland-looking email address launched by Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin designed to allow parents to report incidents at Virginia schools where they feel their parental rights are being undermined has created quite a storm on social media.

Much like Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s making neighbors snitches if they think someone is having an abortion, Governor Youngkin is allowing people to go to a website he has created so they can snitch on a teacher, librarian, school board member, and I guess, even the custodian or your child’s bus driver.

The Governor’s Office launched [email protected] with the intent for parents to report violations of his first two Executive Orders, which allow parents to opt their students out of school masking requirements and bans the teaching of “inherently divisive topics” including critical race theory in schools.

It appears that Youngkin went on the John Fredericks Radio Show Monday,  and said during his interview that “… [It’s] for parents to send us any instances where they feel that their fundamental rights are being violated, where their children are not being respected, where there are inherently divisive practices in their schools.”

The backlash over the order and the tip-line began to build on social media, with celebrities like John Legend and comedian Patton Oswald sharing the address with their followers.

“Black parents need to flood these tip lines with complaints about our history being silenced,” Legend wrote on Twitter, referring to the critical race theory ban.

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7News spoke to Oveta Scott, a Prince William County middle school teacher who has spent more than a decade in the classroom.

We are human beings too. We are going through it too,” she said when asked about her reaction to the governor’s new email tip line. ‘Why are you vilifying us and attacking us? What are we doing? We’re trying to stay afloat. We have a shortage of substitutes. We have a shortage of bus drivers. Every day, I have to look for an email to see if I’m covering someone’s class. Every day.”

Nothing but a big distraction by an irresponsible public servant

State Senator Louise Lucas, a Democrat representing the 18th District in the southeast part of the state, said she does not expect the tip-line to lead to much of anything.

“Like a lot of other gimmicks that a lot of other governors have put forward, this one is going to fall flat like a led balloon,” she said, adding that most people she has spoken to see it as an “intimidation” tactic, reports

“I have never seen a Governor act in such an irresponsible way as to reach down to the parents and by step the teachers, by step the principal, the superintends of school, just to try to intimidate,” Lucas said. “There’s more than just one segment of parents in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Is he listening to Black parents, Hispanic parents, Asian-American parents? Which parents is he listening to? He needs to listen to all parents. Last I checked, parents in the Commonwealth of Virginia want their children to be safe in school.”

Senator Lucas is letting Governor Youngkin off easy. I personally think Youngkin is taking a page from Texas Governor Abbott’s playbook, because just last week, at the public charter school, Founders Classical Academy of Lewisville, Abbott told hundreds of parents “The essential role of parents is being threatened by government itself.”

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Abbott isn’t relying on a web address for snitches. He wants to change the Texas state constitution to make sure that “parents will be restored to their rightful place as the pre-eminent decision-makers for their children.”

The Governor also told the crowd he wants to toughen penalties against educators, including teachers and librarians who give students inappropriate books. “Texas will ensure that any education personnel who is convicted of providing minors with obscene content will lose their educational credentials and state licensing, forfeits their retirement benefits, and be placed on a do not hire list.”

It is time for all this craziness to come to an end. Good grief – I am getting too old to deal with all this “Bull S—” going on today.

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Instagram Adds Scheduled Live Display on User Profiles to Improve Discovery of Upcoming Streams



Instagram Adds Scheduled Live Display on User Profiles to Improve Discovery of Upcoming Streams

After previewing it as a coming feature within its announcement of the expansion of remixable videos on the platform last week, Instagram has now outlined its new display of scheduled live streams on creator profiles, providing another way to raise awareness of upcoming live broadcasts in the app.

As you can see in these screenshots, shared by Instagram chief Adam Mosseri, the new display option will enable you to list your upcoming IG live streams on your profile, which, when tapped, will provide additional info in a pop-up prompt, where people can also sign-up for a reminder of when the stream is set to begin.

As explained by Mosseri:

“Creators have been able to schedule lives for a while now, but now, you can separate scheduling a live from creating a feed post, or even now a Story post, about that Live. You also get a little badge on your profile that’s lets followers know, or anybody know that goes to your profile, that there’s a Live coming up and they can subscribe to be reminded.”

Mosseri further notes that users can create as many scheduled lives as they like, with a side-scrolling list then added to your profile display.

It could be a handy addition for those who broadcast via IG Live, which could prompt more people to tune in, by raising more awareness about your broadcasts. Up till now, the only way to notify people about your upcoming streams in the app has been, as Mosseri notes, through posts and Stories, which limits the reach of those notifications to, generally, your existing followers. Now, anyone who comes by your profile will be able to see that you have a live broadcast coming up, which could bring in more viewers.

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IG Live has become a key connection surface in the app, particularly throughout the pandemic, and as Instagram looks to expand the option into eCommerce, facilitating more direct engagement between brands and fans, the capacity to map out a more effective IG Live strategy could be a big help in maximizing your on-platform efforts.

It may seem like a relatively small addition in the broader scheme, but it could be a big help in raising awareness, and getting more viewers to your upcoming broadcasts.

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